Microsoft OneDrive slowness irks Linux users; Netflix supports Linux on Firefox

In this week’s open source wrap, Linux users faced performance issues with Microsoft’s online services, Netflix went official with Linux support, and Gnome introduced night mode to the Linux desktop.

Martyn Williams

Is Microsoft degrading OneDrive performance in Linux?

Some Microsoft OneDrive users are reporting massive performance degradation on Linux, whereas everything works buttery smooth on Windows. There is no OneDrive client for Linux; you can access it only through a web browser.

A user reported on Reddit that if OneDrive detects you are running Linux, the performance goes down but if you change the user-agent settings in the web browser, fooling it into thinking that you are running Windows, the performance goes up:

After changing the user-agent the performance problems were resolved. The UI of OneDrive worked flawlessly. The only thing in the user-agent that changed was the OS. At first I thought this was a random occurrence but no. I changed back to the normal user-agent and the problem came back.

It’s tempting for some Microsoft hating Linux users to say that the company was doing it on purpose, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Microsoft is evolving into a service company like Google, which makes money from users running those services irrespective of the platform. It makes no business sense for Microsoft to hurt its own revenues. It seems to be a bug that was reported in November 2016; Microsoft is just lazy about fixing it.

Gnome 3.24 introduces night mode to Linux

Gnome is becoming the favorite desktop environment on my HiDPI Dell 5220 laptop. The project just announced the release of version 3.24 of Gnome that brings night mode to the Linux desktop. I have been using night mode on my macOS, so this is a really exciting feature as I do work late at night and night mode keeps my brain from frying up thinking it’s still daytime.

According to the official Gnome blog

Night Light is one of the new features being introduced in this release. This subtly changes the screen color according to the time of day, which can help to reduce sleeplessness if you use your computer at night. Another new feature that will make a lot of users happy is the incorporation of weather information into the notifications area. This shows a simple summary of the day’s weather, and links to the Weather application.

In addition to the night mode, Gnome has improved the user experience across the board. There are noticeable changes in default Gnome applications, including Web, Photos, Polari, Games, Calendar and the Calculator.

That’s the good news. The bad news is you may or may not be able to install Gnome 3.24 on your system depending on the distro you are using.

Watch Netflix on Linux in Firefox

Something as seemingle straightforward as watching online videos can be a daunting task for an average Linux user. I have been there, done that, and then I gave up and moved to streaming boxes, most of which, ironically, run on Linux.

For a very long time, desktop Linux users were not able to watch DRMed content from services like Netflix. As expected, Linux users found some nasty workarounds to watch Netflix, until Google added DRM support in Chrome (not Chromium) for Linux, enabling these users to enjoy shows like Stranger Things without doing strange things to their computers.

However, Chrome is not fully open source; it’s based on the open source Chromium project. That left those users high-and-dry who wanted to use fully open source browsers like Firefox. Initially Mozilla opposed the implementation of DRM in HTML5, as it’s a threat to the open web, but eventually market forces pushed the company to cave in. What’s interesting was that while Mozilla supported the playback of DRMed HTML5 content in Firefox, it only supported Windows and macOS, leaving Linux users out.

That’s changing today. Netflix is officially supporting Linux on Firefox. In a blog post Netflix team wrote:

… though we do not officially support Linux, Chrome playback has worked on that platform since late 2014.  Starting today, users of Firefox can also enjoy Netflix on Linux.  This marks a huge milestone for us and our partners, including Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Mozilla that helped make it possible.

It’s 2017 and my Linux machine just got official support for Netflix, I don’t know whether to rejoice or feel sad.

That’s your wrap for this week, see you next week.

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